Contracting States: Sovereign Transfers in International Relations

Princeton University Press
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Increasingly today nation-states are entering into agreements that involve the sharing or surrendering of parts of their sovereign powers and often leave the cession of authority incomplete or vague. But until now, we have known surprisingly little about how international actors design and implement these mixed-sovereignty arrangements. Contracting States uses the concept of "incomplete contracts"--agreements that are intentionally ambiguous and subject to future renegotiation--to explain how states divide and transfer their sovereign territory and functions, and demonstrate why some of these arrangements offer stable and lasting solutions while others ultimately collapse.

Building on important advances in economics and law, Alexander Cooley and Hendrik Spruyt develop a highly original, interdisciplinary approach and apply it to a broad range of cases involving international sovereign political integration and disintegration. The authors reveal the importance of incomplete contracting in the decolonization of territories once held by Europe and the Soviet Union; U.S. overseas military basing agreements with host countries; and in regional economic-integration agreements such as the European Union. Cooley and Spruyt examine contemporary problems such as the Arab-Israeli dispute over water resources, and show why the international community inadequately prepared for Kosovo's independence.



Contracting States provides guidance to international policymakers about how states with equally legitimate claims on the same territory or asset can create flexible, durable solutions and avoid violent conflict.

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About the author

Alexander Cooley is associate professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University. His books include Base Politics and Logics of Hierarchy. Hendrik Spruyt is the Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations at Northwestern University. His books include Ending Empire and The Sovereign State and Its Competitors (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 20, 2009
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9781400830657
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / International
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / International Relations / Treaties
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Political science has had trouble generating models that unify the study of the formation and consolidation of various types of states and empires. The business-administration literature, however, has long experience in observing organizations. According to a dominant model in this field, business firms generally take one of two forms: unitary (U) or multidivisional (M). The U-form organizes its various elements along the lines of administrative functions, whereas the M-form governs its periphery according to geography and territory.

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The struggle between Russia and Great Britain over Central Asia in the nineteenth century was the original "great game." But in the past quarter century, a new "great game" has emerged, pitting America against a newly aggressive Russia and a resource-hungry China, all struggling for influence over the same region, now one of the most volatile areas in the world: the long border region stretching from Iran through Pakistan to Kashmir. In Great Games, Local Rules, Alexander Cooley, one of America's most respected international relations scholars, explores the dynamics of the new competition for control of the region since 9/11. All three great powers have crafted strategies to increase their power in the area, which includes Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Each nation is pursuing important goals: basing rights for the US, access to natural resources for the Chinese, and increased political influence for the Russians. However, overlooked in all of the talk about this new great game is fact that the Central Asian governments have proven themselves critical agents in their own right, establishing local rules for external power involvement that serve to fend off foreign interest. As a result, despite a decade of intense interest from the United States, Russia, and China, Central Asia remains a collection of segmented states, and the external competition has merely reinforced the sovereign authority of the individual Central Asian governments. A careful and surprising analysis of how small states interact with great powers in a vital region, Great Games, Local Rules greatly advances our understanding of how global politics actually works in the contemporary era.
According to the Department of Defense's 2004 Base Structure Report, the United States officially maintains 860 overseas military installations and another 115 on noncontinental U.S. territories. Over the last fifteen years the Department of Defense has been moving from a few large-footprint bases to smaller and much more numerous bases across the globe. This so-called lily-pad strategy, designed to allow high-speed reactions to military emergencies anywhere in the world, has provoked significant debate in military circles and sometimes-fierce contention within the polity of the host countries.

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Overseas bases, Cooley shows, are not merely installations that serve a military purpose. For host governments and citizens, U.S. bases are also concrete institutions and embodiments of U.S. power, identity, and diplomacy. Analyzing the degree to which overseas bases become enmeshed in local political agendas and interests, Base Politics will be required reading for anyone interested in understanding the extent-and limits-of America's overseas military influence.

Political science has had trouble generating models that unify the study of the formation and consolidation of various types of states and empires. The business-administration literature, however, has long experience in observing organizations. According to a dominant model in this field, business firms generally take one of two forms: unitary (U) or multidivisional (M). The U-form organizes its various elements along the lines of administrative functions, whereas the M-form governs its periphery according to geography and territory.

In Logics of Hierarchy, Alexander Cooley applies this model to political hierarchies across different cultures, geographical settings, and historical eras to explain a variety of seemingly disparate processes: state formation, imperial governance, and territorial occupation. Cooley illustrates the power of this formal distinction with detailed accounts of the experiences of Central Asian republics in the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and compares them to developments in the former Yugoslavia, the governance of modern European empires, Korea during and after Japanese occupation, and the recent U.S. occupation of Iraq.

In applying this model, Logics of Hierarchy reveals the varying organizational ability of powerful states to promote institutional transformation in their political peripheries and the consequences of these formations in determining pathways of postimperial extrication and state-building. Its focus on the common organizational problems of hierarchical polities challenges much of the received wisdom about imperialism and postimperialism.

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